Morgan & Finnegan

locke lord logo.JPGLast week we brought you news of an impending partner defection from Morgan & Finnegan to Locke Lord. Today, Locke Lord made it official. A press release from Locke Lord heralds the bad news for Morgan & Finnegan:

Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, a full-service national law firm of approximately

700 attorneys, announces that more than 30 lawyers previously with New York-based Morgan &

Finnegan are joining Locke Lord. Morgan & Finnegan was one of the oldest and most well regarded Intellectual Property law firms in the country. The attorneys include 13 Partners and

the previous members of Morgan & Finnegan’s Executive Committee.

This move more than doubles the size of Locke Lord’s New York office to about 50 attorneys and

leads to Locke Lord opening a San Francisco office – the Firm’s 13th office and its third in

California (Los Angeles, Sacramento and now San Francisco). Morgan & Finnegan was in

existence more than 115 years and was well-known for providing well-rounded IP services

including IP litigation, patent and trademark prosecution and IP counseling and advice.

Notice the interesting use of the word “was?” “Morgan & Finnegan was in existence more than 115 years …”

Does Locke Lord know something that has not yet been announced to the general public? Or are they just parroting the obvious along with everybody else?

Read the full press release after the jump.

Earlier: Nationwide Dissolution Watch: Morgan & Finnegan?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Dissolution Watch: Locke Lord Locks Down Morgan & Finnegan Laterals”

Morgan Finnegan intellectual property IP law.jpgThe law firm of Morgan & Finnegan, a leading intellectual property boutique, will be dissolving imminently, according to several sources at the firm. Some (but not all) of its lawyers, including prominent partners John Sweeney and James Gould, will join Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell.

Last month, we mentioned the possibility of a merger between the two firms. It now appears that it won’t be a complete merger, but a selective acquisition of certain lawyers (a la Sonnenschein’s absorption of Thacher Proffitt & Wood attorneys when TPW dissolved). As a result, Morgan & Finnegan lawyers who aren’t offered spots on the Locke Lord life raft will be out of jobs.

John Sweeney will become the deputy managing partner of Locke Lord’s New York office, while James Gould will assume the role of co-head of the intellectual property department. At least 11 other Morgan & Finnegan partners will also be making the move. Joining Locke Lord as equity partners are Matthew Blackburn, William Feiler, Peter Fill, Harry Marcus, and Steven Meyer. Coming aboard as income partners are Seth Atlas, Robert Goethals, James Hwa, John Osborne, Richard Straussman, and Andrea Wayda.

Rumors of dissolution have been swirling around Morgan & Finnegan for quite some time. Back in August, the firm engaged in staff and attorney layoffs.

As for how the word got out, something rather strange happened on Friday. An email from an anonymous address was sent to a large number of M&F associates, attaching the Locke Lord offer letters to Sweeney and Gould (posted below — but you may have seen them already, since they were in wide circulation over the weekend, sent to us by multiple correspondents). From one source:

Morgan & Finnegan is dissolving on Monday. They are sending termination letters to everyone. Then, a number of those people will receive offer letters from Locke Lord (so it is not really an acquisition).

Not everyone will get offers. A large number of staff and attorneys will be laid off on Monday. Rumor has it around 70 people. Most first years, and some other associates. Pretty much all staff. LLBL just wants the lease and some of the partners….

Interesting that [Sweeney and Gould] are making off with $1+ million apiece at the cost of most of the jobs of their employees. Needless to say, most people are disgusted. John Sweeney is the person who has kept saying that people should not worry and the firm is fine. Now he is cutting his losses and running.

More discussion — plus links to the James Gould and John Sweeney offer letters, which are an interesting read, especially if you don’t know what a lateral-partner offer letter looks like — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Dissolution Watch: Morgan & Finnegan?”

law firm merger small.jpgJust because it’s after Christmas it doesn’t mean that law firms are done with their holiday shopping.

A tipster reports an intriguing possibility about Texas powerhouse Locke Lord Bissell & LIddell and IP shop Morgan & Finnegan:

Locke Liddell is acquiring Morgan & Finengan. Don’t think it’s final yet.

Tipsters from both firms have heard the news, but obviously nothing has been finalized. Firm spokespeople could not be reached for immediate comment over the holidays.

Both firms appear to have been prudent during the economic crisis. We reported that Morgan & Finnegan lost a number of partners over the summer, while Locke Lord no-offered more than half of their summer associates. But we haven’t received any reports of wide scale associate layoffs at either firm.

That could change if this merger goes through. A tipster reports:

Rumor has it that Lock Liddell will be laying off a number of Morgan & Finnegan lawyers as part of the merger.

Is this a gift that Locke Lord will cherish? Or is it one that Morgan & Finnegan will want to take back to the store? We’ll keep you posted.

Earlier: Nationwide Layoff Watch: Morgan & Finnegan

Nationwide No Offer Watch: Locke Lord’s Sub-50% Offer Ratio

Morgan Finnegan intellectual property IP law.jpgA recent article in IP Law & Business suggested that rumors of the demise of IP specialty law firms have been greatly exaggerated. According to the piece, intellectual property boutiques continue to survive, despite encroachment on their turf by general-practice firms.
This is not to say, however, that everything is peachy in IP land. The article notes that Morgan & Finnegan, one prominent IP shop, “has lost 10 partners in the past year, and its overall head count is down considerably.” (We wonder if they included Jeremy Pitcock in the partner losses.)
The firm has been shedding associates and staff, too. Earlier this week, we heard from several tipsters that Morgan & Finnegan was laying off lawyers, technical and scientific advisors, and staff.
We confirmed the news with Pat Bowers, director of administration for Morgan & Finnegan. She acknowledged the layoffs (and even had the courage to use the “L” word, which many other firms shun).
The firm believes in “the importance of communication,” explained Bowers. “It’s not like we were doing it behind closed doors.” Prior to informing the affected employees, administration sent out a firm-wide email explaining that the firm was “scrutinizing our direct and indirect expenses, and looking at our staffing needs in New York and D.C.”
The affected employees were notified of the layoffs starting on Friday of last week and ending yesterday by close of business (so if you’re at the firm and haven’t heard anything, you’re in the clear). Bowers declined to provide exact numbers, citing confidentiality concerns, but said that (1) the firm “laid off less than 7 percent of attorneys and staff,” and (2) the cuts were centered on staff, not lawyers.
More details, below the fold.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Nationwide Layoff Watch: Morgan & Finnegan”

Jeremy Pitcock Jeremy S Pitcock Morgan Finnegan Above the Law blog.jpgSome of you may recall the strange tale of Jeremy Pitcock, a successful IP litigator in New York. As we previously reported, he recently left Kasowitz Benson, where he headed the intellectual property practice, for Morgan & Finnegan. That’s par for the course, in this age of increased lateral partner movement. The weird part was that Kasowitz issued a statement, apparently in response to Morgan’s trying to tout Pitcock’s move as a hiring coup, in which Kasowitz said they fired Pitcock for “extremely inappropriate personal conduct.”
The plot thickens. A source informed us that Jeremy Pitcock is no longer at Morgan & Finnegan, which we have confirmed. His bio is no longer on the firm website, which has also been scrubbed of the press release touting his hire. If you try emailing him at his Morgan & Finnegan email address, which is the one provided in his LinkedIn profile, as we did, your message will bounce back to you.
We tried calling Jeremy Pitcock at the Morgan & Finnegan phone number listed in his profile. The nervous-sounding woman who answered the phone told us that he’s no longer with the firm, that she didn’t have forwarding information for him, and that his last day in the office was “last week.”
Did Morgan & Finnegan get rid of Pitcock after investigating the alleged “inappropriate personal conduct”? One source said it would be surprising. First, Pitcock is a superstar IP lawyer. Rumor has it that “when he left Simpson, he had a $6 million book of business, as a 6th or 7th year associate. He decided he wanted to be a partner [immediately, rather than waiting a few years,] and Kasowitz took him up on that.”
Second, some claim Morgan & Finnegan has a reputation for tolerating a certain degree of inappropriate personal conduct. One source tells us that “they aren’t known for being friendly to women — or in some cases, they’re known for being too friendly. There were partners who asked female associates on dates repeatedly and others who referred to female associates as ‘pretty young girls.’ Still others simply refused to work with women.”
We contacted the firm’s spokesperson to inquire about Pitcock’s departure; she wasn’t in, so we left a message. We haven’t heard back from her yet, but if we do, we’ll let you know.
If you have the 411, feel free to email us. Thanks.
Update (2:30 PM): We just heard back from the Morgan & Finnegan spokesperson. She stated that the firm generally does not comment on internal firm matters.
Update (6/6/08): Jeremy Pitcock has filed a $90 million defamation lawsuit against Kasowitz Benson. See here.
Earlier: Musical Chairs: Kasowitz Attributes IP Head’s Departure to ‘Extremely Inappropriate Personal Conduct’

Jeremy Pitcock Jeremy S Pitcock Morgan Finnegan Above the Law blog.jpgIf we hadn’t already named a Lawyer of the Day, the prize might have gone to Jeremy Pitcock of Morgan & Finnegan. From the American Lawyer:

The former head of intellectual property at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman was fired in December for “extremely inappropriate personal conduct,” according to the firm.

Not merely “inappropriate” conduct, but “extremely inappropriate” conduct. We’re guessing it was strenuously objectionable.

Jeremy Pitcock, 35, joined Kasowitz in March 2006 after being wooed from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where he was a senior associate. Kasowitz named him head of IP not long after. But after less than two years, Pitcock left the 200-plus-lawyer firm for 52-lawyer New York IP boutique Morgan & Finnegan.

Morgan touted Pitcock’s hiring as “an outstanding addition to our successful litigation practice” when it announced his move on January 8. But the Kasowitz firm says he was forced out following an unspecified incident.

“Mr. Pitcock was terminated for cause by Kasowitz, Benson in December 2007 because of extremely inappropriate personal conduct,” name partner Daniel Benson said in a statement.

So what prompted the firm’s statement?

Kasowitz’s statement followed the publication of an article in trade publication IP Law 360 last week, which reported that Morgan had lured Pitcock from Kasowitz. In his statement, directed toward the publication, Benson said, “It was inaccurate to use ‘nab’ in your headline, or to use ‘jump ship’ in your opening paragraph.”

“We were not looking to publicize this incident, but because of those incorrect news items, we felt compelled to set the record straight,” Benson said in a press release that the firm distributed online.

We’re intrigued — and the full article in the American Lawyer doesn’t offer much more. If you have details on the alleged conduct, please email us. Thanks.
Update (6/6/08): Jeremy Pitcock has filed a $90 million defamation lawsuit against Kasowitz Benson. See here.
Kasowitz Fired its ex-IP Chief for Inappropriate Conduct [The American Lawyer via]
Jeremy S. Pitcock bio [Morgan & Finnegan]